[Hpn] Cuts in social services, Pay increases for the Police

Becky Johnson Becky_Johnson@sbcglobal.net
Sun, 8 Sep 2002 08:21:29 -0700


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Note to reader: While homeless services, health care, and child care =
services are being cut, the police budget in Santa Cruz actually went up =
by a million dollars a year with a new, generous retirement contract the =
city just granted them.  The SCPD was spared the budget ax right in the =
middle of a media blitz about how "dangerous" downtown Santa Cruz has =
become.

While stats for serious crime have been dropping in the past five years, =
the City decided this is the time to pass sweeping new ordinances which =
create crimes out of previously normal human activities: blowing =
bubbles, playing hacky-sack, juggling, jacks, hopscotch, playing music, =
setting up a political table, sitting, or asking for a dime.  These new =
ordinances, in order to "work" require police enforcement.  Officers are =
paid $22/hr and it costs the city $200 to book someone into county jail.

I was arrested by 6 police officers and one Parks and Rec worker, booked =
into county jail for writing with sidewalk chalk in the gutter along =
Pacific Ave.  The bigger message to poor people is, we don't support =
you, we don't care what it costs to get rid of you, get out of town.=20

--- Becky Johnson

FROM THE SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL -- SUNDAY EDITION
=20
September 8, 2002=20



Future of social-service agencies in peril
By JEANENE HARLICK=20
Sentinel staff writer=20

Two-year-old George McClintock would be spending both his days and early =
evenings with strangers if it wasn't for Good Beginnings Toddler Center. =


The center, run by the nonprofit group Community Bridges, is one of the =
only child-care centers in the area that offers sliding-scale fees. =
Jennifer McClintock, George's single, working mother, pays $160 a month =
for 9-to-5 care. At a private child-care center, she'd be paying =
$500-$700.=20

But the March repeal of the county's utility tax has put the center's =
future in jeopardy. To make up for the $10 million loss in annual =
revenue, the county slashed funds to social-service agencies countywide =
by 10 percent - $489,650 total - and cut health organizations' budgets =
by $817,000. The city of Santa Cruz cut its funding to nonprofits by =
another 5 percent.=20

Community Bridges took a $100,000 hit. It's had to dip into reserves =
this summer to keep Good Beginnings and its Meals on Wheels program =
going. If the agency can't find some grant money or donors soon, its =
managers say they will have to shut down the toddler center, which =
serves about 20 low-income families.=20

Jennifer McClintock doesn't know what she'll do if that happens.=20

"I would have to find another job and somebody else would have to watch =
my child at night while I worked," she said. "Where does that leave my =
child?"=20

Community Bridges' story is repeated among local nonprofits. Hit with =
county, city and state reductions on top of declining donations in a =
slow economy, nonprofits are cutting the services and staff that help =
the county's needy - in the neediest of times.=20

"Nonprofits are the safety net, the place people go to when there's no =
place else to go," said Chris Johnson-Lyons, executive director of the =
Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County. "The safety net has been =
cut, and at absolutely the worse time."=20

With everything from homeless shelters to drug-treatment programs =
threatened, the cutbacks don't come without a social toll, and will only =
cost the county and state more money in the long run, nonprofit leaders =
said.=20

"We'll see more people in jail. We'll see more abuse, violence, and the =
variety of social ills you see when you don't help people," said Ken =
Cole, executive director of the Homeless Services Center. "It will catch =
up with us."=20

Feeling their duty is to the community first, nonprofits traditionally =
try to cut labor costs rather than services, Cole said. That often means =
decreasing staff while increasing workload, freezing salaries, and =
reducing or cutting benefits. But things are to the point where =
nonprofits can't even do that, said Beth Love, president of the Human =
Care Alliance, a coalition of local nonprofits.=20

Services for the mentally ill and drug and alcohol addicts have been =
particularly hard hit. While Proposition 36 money will keep funding for =
drug addicts with criminal histories stable, money for nonoffending =
addicts is low. The Community Counseling Center had to decrease beds for =
those clients at two residential programs, as well as cut 400 hours out =
of an outpatient program.=20

It also had to eliminate an evening outpatient program for the mentally =
ill, and reduce staff hours at the River Street shelter. Front Street =
Residential Care had to reduce its day program for the severely mentally =
ill from five to three days per week. Front Street Inc. lost $250,000 in =
county funds this year.=20

"The sad part about this is the county just did a study that showed the =
effectiveness of day programs for people with severe mental =
disabilities," said Richard Nanas, agency vice president. "(The =
programs) keep hospitalization extremely low."=20

The Mental Health Client Action Network, a drop-in center that helped =
keep 250 homeless people off the streets in daytime hours last year, is =
operating on a shoestring budget. A four-year grant it had used for peer =
counselors, an art teacher, music equipment and rent just ended. As a =
result, all of its money is now going toward rent, utilities, staff =
salaries and liability insurance, with nothing left for program =
supplies, its newsletter, van maintenance, and other extras.=20

One of the only centers open on Saturday, when other county programs are =
closed, the Mental Health Client Action Network had to stop weekend =
service because of its budget crunch. It's closed on Wednesdays, too.=20

"We're trying to scrounge around and (find) grants," said Bonnie Schell, =
executive director.=20

Paul O'Brien, executive director of the Community Counseling Center, =
fears a return to the pre-Ronald Reagan era, when the only mental-health =
service government paid for was institutionalization. If the cutbacks =
continue, that's what will happen, he said.=20

Already in Santa Cruz, hospitalization of the indigent mentally ill is =
soaring, he said. That costs money - nearly $1,000 per patient daily at =
Dominican Hospital's mental-health unit. If the trend continues, =
community-based services will have to be dismantled to pay for it. Which =
means more hospitalization, and further service reductions.=20

"It's a downward spiral," O'Brien said.=20

The picture for Santa Cruz's homeless looks equally bad. Shelter at the =
National Armory this winter will have to be cut short if local agencies =
and governments can't scare up some money, Cole said. The state cut =
funding for the shelter from $93,000 to $32,000 this year.=20

It comes at a time when homelessness is on the rise. The Community =
Action Board has almost used up its pot of emergency assistance money =
for seniors and disabled people who can't pay their rent. And there's =
still 10 months to go in the fiscal year. The agency's also had to =
reduce hotel vouchers for people who can't get into crowded shelters.=20

"Our programs are like a miner's canary," Johnson-Lyons said. "This may =
be a sign that the economic downturn is growing rather than improving."=20

The Homeless Services Center's budget was cut 32 percent by local =
jurisdictions - primarily the city of Santa Cruz. The center's staved =
off program cuts by freezing employee salaries. But that's a short-term =
solution, Cole said. If funding continues to drop next year - as it =
appears it will - the center will have to layoff staff and ax programs, =
he said.=20

"We really depend on our local partners to keep our services in place," =
Cole said. "(Their funding) works as leverage to capture funding from =
other sources."=20

While Cole thinks county supervisors did the best they could with =
limited funds, others don't. Blaming cuts to nonprofits on the utility =
tax and economy is just a smoke-and-mirrors ploy to hide excessive =
spending, said Bob Suhr, the man behind the tax repeal effort.=20

Suhr points to the $31 million and $26 million surpluses the county had =
in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, respectively. While about $8 million of the =
money was saved in various reserve funds, the rest was spent on things =
like road projects, technology, capital projects and department =
operations.=20

"Maybe if they hung onto some of that money they used so freely they =
could take care of people (in need)," Suhr said. "You can't just blame =
Measure L. ... It's a discretionary thing. They spend the money as they =
see fit."=20

Contact Jeanene Harlick at jharlick@santa-cruz.com.=20




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<DIV><FONT size=3D2><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Note to reader: While =
homeless=20
services, health care, and child care services are being cut, the police =
budget=20
in Santa Cruz actually went up by a million dollars a year with a new, =
generous=20
retirement contract the city just granted them.&nbsp; The SCPD was =
spared the=20
budget ax right in the middle of a media blitz about how "dangerous" =
downtown=20
Santa Cruz has become.</FONT></FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>While stats for serious crime have been =
dropping in=20
the past five years, the City decided this is the time to pass sweeping =
new=20
ordinances which create crimes out of previously normal human =
activities:=20
blowing bubbles, playing hacky-sack, juggling, jacks, hopscotch, playing =
music,=20
setting up a political table, sitting, or asking for a dime.&nbsp; These =
new=20
ordinances, in order to "work" require police enforcement.&nbsp; =
Officers are=20
paid $22/hr and it costs the city $200 to book someone into county=20
jail.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>I was arrested by 6 police officers and =
one Parks=20
and Rec worker, booked into county jail for writing with sidewalk chalk =
in the=20
gutter along Pacific Ave.&nbsp; The bigger message to poor people is, we =
don't=20
support you, we don't care what it costs to get rid of you, get out of=20
town.&nbsp;</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>--- Becky Johnson</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>FROM THE SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL -- SUNDAY=20
EDITION</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><FONT face=3D"Verdana, Arial, =
Helvetica, sans-serif"=20
size=3D2></FONT></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><FONT face=3D"Verdana, Arial, =
Helvetica, sans-serif"=20
size=3D2>September 8, 2002 <BR></DIV><BR><!-- tablestart --><!-- =
tableend --><B>
<H2>Future of social-service agencies in peril</H2>
<DIV><B></B>By JEANENE HARLICK </DIV>
<P><I></B>Sentinel staff writer=20
<P></I>Two-year-old George McClintock would be spending both his days =
and early=20
evenings with strangers if it wasn&#8217;t for Good Beginnings Toddler =
Center.=20
<P>The center, run by the nonprofit group Community Bridges, is one of =
the only=20
child-care centers in the area that offers sliding-scale fees. Jennifer=20
McClintock, George&#8217;s single, working mother, pays $160 a month for =
9-to-5 care.=20
At a private child-care center, she&#8217;d be paying $500-$700.=20
<P>But the March repeal of the county&#8217;s utility tax has put the =
center&#8217;s future=20
in jeopardy. To make up for the $10 million loss in annual revenue, the =
county=20
slashed funds to social-service agencies countywide by 10 percent =
&#8212; $489,650=20
total &#8212; and cut health organizations&#8217; budgets by $817,000. =
The city of Santa=20
Cruz cut its funding to nonprofits by another 5 percent.=20
<P>Community Bridges took a $100,000 hit. It&#8217;s had to dip into =
reserves this=20
summer to keep Good Beginnings and its Meals on Wheels program going. If =
the=20
agency can&#8217;t find some grant money or donors soon, its managers =
say they will=20
have to shut down the toddler center, which serves about 20 low-income =
families.=20

<P>Jennifer McClintock doesn&#8217;t know what she&#8217;ll do if that =
happens.=20
<P>"I would have to find another job and somebody else would have to =
watch my=20
child at night while I worked," she said. "Where does that leave my =
child?"=20
<P>Community Bridges&#8217; story is repeated among local nonprofits. =
Hit with county,=20
city and state reductions on top of declining donations in a slow =
economy,=20
nonprofits are cutting the services and staff that help the =
county&#8217;s needy &#8212; in=20
the neediest of times.=20
<P>"Nonprofits are the safety net, the place people go to when =
there&#8217;s no place=20
else to go," said Chris Johnson-Lyons, executive director of the =
Community=20
Action Board of Santa Cruz County. "The safety net has been cut, and at=20
absolutely the worse time."=20
<P>With everything from homeless shelters to drug-treatment programs =
threatened,=20
the cutbacks don&#8217;t come without a social toll, and will only cost =
the county and=20
state more money in the long run, nonprofit leaders said.=20
<P>"We&#8217;ll see more people in jail. We&#8217;ll see more abuse, =
violence, and the=20
variety of social ills you see when you don&#8217;t help people," said =
Ken Cole,=20
executive director of the Homeless Services Center. "It will catch up =
with us."=20
<P>Feeling their duty is to the community first, nonprofits =
traditionally try to=20
cut labor costs rather than services, Cole said. That often means =
decreasing=20
staff while increasing workload, freezing salaries, and reducing or =
cutting=20
benefits. But things are to the point where nonprofits can&#8217;t even =
do that, said=20
Beth Love, president of the Human Care Alliance, a coalition of local=20
nonprofits.=20
<P>Services for the mentally ill and drug and alcohol addicts have been=20
particularly hard hit. While Proposition 36 money will keep funding for =
drug=20
addicts with criminal histories stable, money for nonoffending addicts =
is low.=20
The Community Counseling Center had to decrease beds for those clients =
at two=20
residential programs, as well as cut 400 hours out of an outpatient =
program.=20
<P>It also had to eliminate an evening outpatient program for the =
mentally ill,=20
and reduce staff hours at the River Street shelter. Front Street =
Residential=20
Care had to reduce its day program for the severely mentally ill from =
five to=20
three days per week. Front Street Inc. lost $250,000 in county funds =
this year.=20
<P>"The sad part about this is the county just did a study that showed =
the=20
effectiveness of day programs for people with severe mental =
disabilities," said=20
Richard Nanas, agency vice president. "(The programs) keep =
hospitalization=20
extremely low."=20
<P>The Mental Health Client Action Network, a drop-in center that helped =
keep=20
250 homeless people off the streets in daytime hours last year, is =
operating on=20
a shoestring budget. A four-year grant it had used for peer counselors, =
an art=20
teacher, music equipment and rent just ended. As a result, all of its =
money is=20
now going toward rent, utilities, staff salaries and liability =
insurance, with=20
nothing left for program supplies, its newsletter, van maintenance, and =
other=20
extras.=20
<P>One of the only centers open on Saturday, when other county programs =
are=20
closed, the Mental Health Client Action Network had to stop weekend =
service=20
because of its budget crunch. It&#8217;s closed on Wednesdays, too.=20
<P>"We&#8217;re trying to scrounge around and (find) grants," said =
Bonnie Schell,=20
executive director.=20
<P>Paul O&#8217;Brien, executive director of the Community Counseling =
Center, fears a=20
return to the pre-Ronald Reagan era, when the only mental-health service =

government paid for was institutionalization. If the cutbacks continue, =
that&#8217;s=20
what will happen, he said.=20
<P>Already in Santa Cruz, hospitalization of the indigent mentally ill =
is=20
soaring, he said. That costs money &#8212; nearly $1,000 per patient =
daily at=20
Dominican Hospital&#8217;s mental-health unit. If the trend continues, =
community-based=20
services will have to be dismantled to pay for it. Which means more=20
hospitalization, and further service reductions.=20
<P>"It&#8217;s a downward spiral," O&#8217;Brien said.=20
<P>The picture for Santa Cruz&#8217;s homeless looks equally bad. =
Shelter at the=20
National Armory this winter will have to be cut short if local agencies =
and=20
governments can&#8217;t scare up some money, Cole said. The state cut =
funding for the=20
shelter from $93,000 to $32,000 this year.=20
<P>It comes at a time when homelessness is on the rise. The Community =
Action=20
Board has almost used up its pot of emergency assistance money for =
seniors and=20
disabled people who can&#8217;t pay their rent. And there&#8217;s still =
10 months to go in=20
the fiscal year. The agency&#8217;s also had to reduce hotel vouchers =
for people who=20
can&#8217;t get into crowded shelters.=20
<P>"Our programs are like a miner&#8217;s canary," Johnson-Lyons said. =
"This may be a=20
sign that the economic downturn is growing rather than improving."=20
<P>The Homeless Services Center&#8217;s budget was cut 32 percent by =
local=20
jurisdictions &#8212; primarily the city of Santa Cruz. The =
center&#8217;s staved off=20
program cuts by freezing employee salaries. But that&#8217;s a =
short-term solution,=20
Cole said. If funding continues to drop next year &#8212; as it appears =
it will &#8212; the=20
center will have to layoff staff and ax programs, he said.=20
<P>"We really depend on our local partners to keep our services in =
place," Cole=20
said. "(Their funding) works as leverage to capture funding from other =
sources."=20

<P>While Cole thinks county supervisors did the best they could with =
limited=20
funds, others don&#8217;t. Blaming cuts to nonprofits on the utility tax =
and economy=20
is just a smoke-and-mirrors ploy to hide excessive spending, said Bob =
Suhr, the=20
man behind the tax repeal effort.=20
<P>Suhr points to the $31 million and $26 million surpluses the county =
had in=20
1999-2000 and 2000-01, respectively. While about $8 million of the money =
was=20
saved in various reserve funds, the rest was spent on things like road =
projects,=20
technology, capital projects and department operations.=20
<P>"Maybe if they hung onto some of that money they used so freely they =
could=20
take care of people (in need)," Suhr said. "You can&#8217;t just blame =
Measure L. ...=20
It&#8217;s a discretionary thing. They spend the money as they see fit." =

<P><I>Contact Jeanene Harlick at <A=20
href=3D"mailto:jharlick@santa-cruz.com?subject=3DFuture of =
social-service agencies in peril">jharlick@santa-cruz.com</A>.=20

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